Hawtrey House School Ruislip
Hawtrey School | Hawtrey Drive Ruislip
Its premises consisted of two converted semi-detached houses in Hawtrey Drive. Looking at them face-on from across the street, the ground floor and upstairs rooms to the right, made up the school while interconnecting upstairs to the left were the private quarters of the Headmistress, Mrs Stimson, Mrs Elfrida Stimson, a remarkable chain-smoking battleaxe, who had inherited the business from her dead husband. Sometimes Mr Stimson’s authority still seemed to prevail from the photograph of him in uniform fixed to the wall of the Head’s own classroom, Form 1. It was generally accepted that he had been an air ace, killed in action during the last War although he actually died when his plane went astray over Lagos in 1946, a loss anyway from which I suspect his widow never fully recovered.
The authority which the dead man could no longer supply in person lived on in the ‘scout belt’ – it may indeed once have been his own belt - a deterrent all the stronger for being so rarely used. It was once applied to two boys for defying a temporary injunction against travelling to school in parties of three or more, the balance-tipping member of the group, escaping because he never tried to hide his presence. Otherwise the belt’s appearances were limited to cameo moments on the head’s desk as an awful final warning against chronic laughter.
Mrs Stimson’s elder daughter, mistress of the upper kindergarten also worked for the family firm, perhaps as a tribute to the teaching, two of her own children attended as pupils. Hawtrey House was primarily a boys’ school aimed at securing places in local minor public schools, particularly the Lower School of John Lyon, regarded then and perhaps now as Harrow for the masses. Girls were encouraged in the kindergarten but expected to disappear quietly before or during the ‘Transition’, an intermediate class before the boys went on to the school proper. Occasionally girls lingered on into the higher classes, Mrs Stimson, surprisingly unable or unwilling to dislodge them.
The uniform was royal blue with a blazer badge of two overlapping capital Hs. Winter wear for boys in the kindergarten was roll-neck blue pullovers, changing to grey shirts with blue ties higher up the school. In summer it was white shirts and at all seasons, grey short trousers and black elastic sided house shoes indoors. For the girls, as far as I can recall, it was grey skirts with blue cardigans and blue berets in winter, blue and white striped dresses with boater hats in the summer – rather fetching for a boy of four or five to contemplate.
Space was at a premium: the classes were minute by any standard, ranging from perhaps a dozen in the lower kindergarten to as few as four in the top form. Sports and recreation breaks were taken in Eastcote Park, to which pupils were marched twice a day in a chattering crocodile. There was a cycle shed, an old air-raid shelter down the right-hand side of the back garden – no-one would have thought of smoking behind it and for PT and the Christmas play, a journey on foot, bike or bus to the school scout hut at West Ruislip. The 3rd Ruislip Troop was affiliated to Hawtrey House, Elfrida Stimson doubling as the equally formidable ‘Akela’ aided by a Baghera and a Balloo.
Downstairs in the school, the main hall was opened up for assemblies and then divided in two to separate the lower and upper kindergartens, who were taught on benches at trestle tables. Each morning the infants marched to the front one at a time to put their food for the morning break in a large biscuit tin. Lunches to me were a mystery - possibly taken in a local café - because I always ate at home. The higher classes of the preparatory school were taught at proper desks in separate rooms, except for the tiny groups in forms three and four who were placed together. It was Form 1 upstairs which gave on to the Head’s premises. In normal circumstances the sinister domesticity the other side of that second door was only breached to have a cut knee bathed and bandaged. It was from this room that in time of crisis the scout belt was fetched and from here also came the astonishing news, one freezing morning that King George VI had died.
Much of the teaching at Hawtrey House was conducted by radio broadcasts, How things began, with its stories of rampant dinosaurs, Science in the community, intended for fifteen year olds and over. In 1954 or 5 we listened to the Derby. In normal lessons we wrote up notes on the Punic Wars and Nebuchadnezzar. Years later I discovered that we had been taught geography from a pre-war atlas although it would be churlish to say so now.
In ascending order, the teachers were Miss King, Mrs Faithfull (sometimes Mrs Leakey), Mrs O’Brien, Mrs Stimson, Mrs Head and Mrs Cousins. Those I missed included Mrs Farrant and Miss Emerson. Sometimes men found there way on to the staff, like Mr Cornish and then there was Mr Mason, who took us for PT down at the scout hut.
Of the pupils, in stream of consciousness order, come the following (apologies to those before or after or forgotten): Roger Troughton, Geoffrey Stone, John Stewart, Timothy Millward, Tony Heavens, Michael Bonner, Andrew Panter, Peter Morrell, Duncan Fenton, Nigel Shadforth and his older brother, Tony Painter, Tony Townsend, Barry Annis, Wendy Annis, John Davies, Elizabeth Davies, Michael Thomas, Jeremy Edwards, John Silver, Paul Tucker, Colin Golding, Kenneth Gathergood, David Cunningham, Richard Cunningham, Peter Ballard, David Ballard, Adrian Crosthwaite, Ann(e) Sayers, Ann(e) Finch, Janet Hope, Moira Freeguard, Kathleen Bryant, Margaret Dent, Christopher Fox, Nicholas Fox, Stephen Fox, Paul Ross, Andrew Fulljames and his younger brother, Peter Buck, Rowland Buck, Christopher Rumble and his younger brother, John Sygrove (died tragically), Anthony Dean, Brian Lamfia, Martin and Rupert Pruetts (Prewitts?) and their older brother, Ian Nicholas Gibbs, Nicholas Bastin, a Cope, a Gough, a Ward (Colin?surnames were de rigeur at Hawtrey House) and his sister, Marian Ward, a Humphreys, a Dufton, Richard Carver, Dudley Hughes, Sally Ann Faithfull, Ian Faithfull, David Wilson, a Garland, Andrew Muxworthy, Peter Johnston, Eric Goldsworthy, John Sturman…oh and a Germab boy, whose name hovers tantalisingly off the radar. Attracted by the novelty of a British education there were also the sons of American servicemen, serving at the South Ruislip airbase; Chris Chatham, a Silvus, a Coffey: all later found going native in jeans and T shirt at the American school in the old foreign office building down by Fore Street. Among their number too was Donnie Schweikert, who came from Florida of an anglophile family.
It was at Donnie’s birthday party, appropriately enough, that I first learnt from a globe that England was a tiny island off the coast of Europe, information suppressed perhaps at Hawtrey House, which had no globe and was a universe all too itself. Each school day for six years I travelled the mile there, sometimes by bike, sometimes on foot, always embarrassed that I did not attend the state school at the end of the road instead but never regretting that I was a pupil of Mrs Stimson’s eccentric academy. At the end of every year the assembly sung Lord dismiss us with thy blessing to the tune of Deutschland Deutschland uber alles. As I worked my way through the school, becoming in due course one of the giants in the back row that had awed me on my arrival I patiently waited for the day when I would be one of the all who here shall meet no more. In the event I missed it, I was sick on the last day with infected glands.
Hawtrey House School/-
Former pupils comment below:-
My family (US Air Force) moved to UK in Jan 1951, me at age 6. In searching for our first temporary housing at the White Hart (now Great House) in Sonning, I began to look round for other places we lived in UK including Uxbridge and Ruislip, and behold! Hawtrey House.
I am the Coffey whom John Churcher refers in his original post--attended HH I believe in 1952 at age 8 with my friend Terry Townsend, before being moved to a US school nearby, Denham or Bushy Park.
I remember only struggling with fractions and with Bovril after our freezing swim lessons (was the pool in Uxb?).
We lived on Swakeleys Road in Ickenham. I took the 223 or the 226 to school. And that's the extent of my memories, sorry not to contribute more.
My memory of the uniform is slightly different to your writer; I have no recollection of wearing roll neck pullovers and he does not mention the cap, which was compulsory. I have a photograph of myself, taken on my first day of school in April 1948, just after I turned five, and I am wearing a blazer, shirt and tie (and cap). If it is not too pedantic, I would describe the colour as Cambridge blue, rather than royal blue.
My name is Dave Golding and I attended Hawtrey House in the late forties before going on to Bishop Ingram. I lived at the bottom of 'The Ridgeway' on Eastcote Rd. next to my best friend Ken Gathergood .My recollections are very vague after all these years and only a couple of names come to mind. The Fox brothers, who also lived on Eastcote Rd at Windmill Hill. Duncan Fenton who went on to the "Manor " with me. I also remember a boy who's surname was Buck.Ken and I made up a little rhyme which I remember to this day- "?????? Buck sat in some dog muck"!!!
I came across the picture below a few years ago and remember it being taken! Yours truly is second left, front row. Ken Gathergood is fifth from left and Duncan Fenton is far right. The boy on the left looks very familiar but no name springs to mind.My two brothers Rick and Mike and sister Linda and her husband Paul Ayres were all very active in the scout movement in the fifties and can remember Mrs. Stimpson very well.
I have lived in Canada for the last 36yrs but still think of Ruislip as "home"
Hawtrey House School/-
Re Dave Golding's photograph, while it is not too difficult to think of the names it is not always easy to connect them accurately to the faces. The picture was taken in the summer of 1949 and consists of two classes. Upper Kindergarten, whose teacher was Mrs Faithfull (right) and Lower Kindergarten taught by Miss King (left). All the boys in the front two rows I believe were in the Lower Kindergarten. The girls I am not so sure about. They look as though they might have ben mixed up. Any way this is my stab at identifying them.
We'll take Dave Golding himself (front 2left) and Ken Gathergood (front 3right) as read. Even today their names are linked in my mind like a Wimbledon doubles' pairing. As also Duncan Fenton (front far right) who I remember very well. (When we were 6 he talked about us learning to submit to pain so we cd become stoics).
Anyway these are the other definites: -
John Churcher (front 4left), Barry Annis (2nd row 2left), Roger Troughton (2nd row 4left), John Stewart (2nd row 6left), Christopber Buck (standing far left), Chris Fox (standing far right).
These I would say are probable/possibles: -
Richard Carver (front 1left), Paul Tucker (front 3left), Tony Painter (2nd row 1left), Tony Townsend (2nd row 3left), Ann Sayers (3rd row 2right), Margaret Dent (back row far right), Kathleen Bryant (back row 2right), Nicholas Bastin (3rd row 3left).
I would also expect Wendy Annis, Janet Hope and Moira Freeguard to be in the picture, although I'm afraid I couldn't even make a guess, even though I saw Janet Hope as recently (if that is the right word) as the early sixties.
I am also surprised not to be able to identify Peter Morrell and John Davies. Perhaps that's John's head bent over (2nd row 2right)
I don't remember that marvellous trellis in the background. It all looks very cosy and long long ago. Is that Ian Nicholas-Gibbs (front 2right). All in all, there don't seem to be enough people in the picture.
Anyone else got any ideas?
My name is Alan Thomas. I attended Hawtrey House from 1952-57. My brother, Michael Thomas (mentioned by a previous correspondent), attended from 1948-53.
I recognised a good deal in your first correspondent's description - Mrs Stimpson in Scout uniform, the fearsome belt, the walks in Eastcote Park (for 'nature study')...The the downstairs room was opened up for 'music and movement' to the strains of music from the BBC, courtesy of a brown box radio that stood on the window-sill of the front bay. I remember sitting on the floor of that room playing with big, green, rubber lego bricks on my very fist morning.
The West Ruislip scout hut was the venue for school plays - I have a photograph of the 'finale' of a nativity play (unfortunately I don't have the technology to send an electronic copy of this). I appeared in one such as Joseph, with one line - on arrival at Bethlehem: 'Here is an inn'. I also played Lion in a production of the Wizard of Oz (?), wearing a full lion costume.
Of the teachers, apart from Mrs Stimpson I recall Mrs Smith (my first teacher), Mrs Leakey and Mrs Head (my final year teacher - she lived further up Hawtrey Drive or in Myrtle Ave.). There was also a Miss Joy Faithfull, young and fair-haired, possibly the daughter of the Mrs Faithfull shown in Dave Golding's photograph.
A similar photo to his, taken in the garden at Hawtrey House in about 1955, shows 10 pupils. Apart from myself these are Telford Payne (his brother also attended the school) Michael Godden, Malcolm Underwood (who lived along Hawtrey Drive), Nicky Nardekia (probable), Roger Pegg, Jane Horton, David Hobbs and Brian Grout (there is one other boy, possibly Ian Barraclough??). Not shown in the picture but also classmates of mine were Sally Darling (who lived in my road, Rosebury Vale), Ellie Bray, and Allan Robinson (who went on to Merchant Taylor's).
I left Hawtrey House in 1957 when my parents moved up the road to Ruislip and then to the North of England two years later. I look back on those black-and-white photos and wonder - where are they now?
Alan Thomas 25.10.04
My name is Mike Thomas, brother of the aforementioned Alan. I was at Hawtrey House from age 4(1948) to 9( 1953) when I went into the preparatory school at what became my secondary school - Latymer Upper in Hammersmith.
I remember my first day and hanging my coat in the air raid shelter with tears streaming down my face at being left by 'Mum'. It was September 1948 and I was about four years and four months old. I went into Miss King's kindergarten class and adored her.
However, I had had some childhood illnesses which had kept me in bed quite a lot and, to alleviate the boredom, I had learned to read ,write and do some basic arithmetic. This meant, when we started on school work proper, I was ahead of everyone else in my class and found the early lessons very easy and quick to do.
This was first dealt with by putting me at the back of the class and giving me long division while everyone else was doing addition and subtraction. As if this didn't make me unpopular enough, I was then put up a class - which had the result of alienating all my old classmates who (probably quite reasonably) thought I was a smart ass, and my new classmates, who had already been together a year or two and didn't welcome an interloper - particularly one who might be cleverer than some of them. All of this led to a lot of bullying and a generally miserable time for me. I even became less popular than the unfortunate Ian Faithfull who, because his mother and grandmother were teachers at the school, was assumed( I would guess unfairly) to be the object of much favouritism.
I am afraid I remember Mrs Stimson (I never knew she had such an appropriately grisly Christian name- indeed, I don't think it occurred to me that she might have a first name at all) as a dreadful bully of a teacher. She certainly used the scout belt on me at least twice - once for the heinous crime of 'fidgeting'. Strangely I remember her as a quite benign 'Akela', although she did nothing to protect me from even more bullying at Cub camp in Devon (Stoke Gabriel - wonderful field overlooking the river near Totnes, but rather steeply sloping site).
I found a way of surviving in the end and I suppose must have been OK - I loved the experience of learning; but, the school and the classes were so small, it was very hard to escape from one's classmates or find different friends at it. I did spend some time at Malcolm Underwood's house because his father was a terrific handyman. Malcolm I don't think was that interested, but I really wanted one of those go carts made from old orange boxes and pram wheels - so Mr. Underwood and I made one together. Also along Hawtrey Drive I went to a lady for piano lessons - I don't remember her name.
I remember shoplifting for sweets in the shop at the top of the slope down to Ruislip Manor Station for 'dares' and once pulling the lever in the big red fire alarm that stood outside it, watching the fire engine come from a distance and then spending the next few weeks expecting that at any moment the police would knock on our door and arrest me. We went shooting sparrows and bluetits with our air guns in Ruislip Woods, fished for sticklebacks with bent pins in the River Pin, and swam in Ruislip Lido (the greatest treat was to ride on the miniature railway there).
We rode our bikes everywhere. I realised recently, watching some friends with four daughters on the treadmill of the 'school run', that I don't think I ever as a child was taken by car to school (or indeed anything) in normal circumstances. What a contrast with today.
The land by the side of the Baptist church (where I went to Sunday School) still had air raid shelters in the sandy soil and we played in them - I imagine, in retrospect, in imminent danger of being buried alive! The area by the railway line (where Woolworths was built) was scrub land filled with nettles into which I was ceremoniously thrown on my way home if I had been perceived to be especially obnoxiously clever that day. I devised several circuitous routes home to try to avoid this fate befalling me.
I got a Saturday job at the second hand car dealers on the road to Ruislip. They had lots of little MGs and, as the reward for the tedious task of cleaning them, I was allowed to drive them in and out of the showroom -usually a matter of a few feet but rivetingly exciting.
I spent most of my leisure time with the kids from the local primary school in the Ruislip Manor 'Rec' which still in those days had a 'Parkie' who could be tormented mercilessly. Every night at closing time we played hide and seek with him as he tried to lock the gates. As soon as he went, of course, we climbed back in over the fence. This was clearly a Middlesex (national?) tradition, as, when we moved to Ruislip proper, I found the exact same procedure was followed at the Ruislip 'Rec'.
My saviour was Mrs Leakey, who, realising the position I had been put in, and also being aware of some home problems ,came up with the idea of my going to Latymer aged nine and sold it to my parents. It was the best thing that could have happened to me, and for the first time in my life I actually looked forward to going to school every day.
Mike Thomas 05/11/2004
The lady who gave my brother (Michael Thomas) piano lessons was Miss Ruth Collins. She lived up Hawtrey Drive on the same side as the school not far from Malcolm Underwood's house. I also had lessons at her house for about a year. The porch was adorned with a plaque announcing Miss Collins name and profession. I used to go at a lunchtime and was always shown into the large front room to eat my sandwiches alone before the lesson began. I would sit
on the hearthrug wreathed in the scent of furniture polish. Miss Collins had a grand piano complete with metronome. I dimly recall being able to play at least one tune as a result of her efforts. Something must have sunk in as, 35 years later, I started piano lessons again!
Hawtrey House School/-
Like Alan Thomas I remember appearing in a nativity play at West Ruislip scout hut, and like him I had just one line; I was one of the three kings and I had to say "And I bring frankincense". Another memory is that in the transition we were allowed to choose the hymn to be sung on our birthday, and I chose "Once in Royal David's City", even though my birthday is in March. The teacher, who I believe was Mrs Faithfull, remarked that she had never sung a Christmas carol in March before. For piano lessons I went to a Mrs Doyle, who lived in Elm Avenue.
I'm afraid I don't have such a good memory as your other correspondents, and none of the names of my fellow pupils ring any bells with me, but if there is anyone out there who remembers me, I would love to hear from them. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
My only connection with Hawtrey House was when I went there as a Wolf Cub to be examined by Mrs. Simpson for proficiency badges and was admitted to the hallowed private dwelling.
Like her husband, she was devoted to the Scout Movement. I recall Mr. Simpson (Stimson? ed) well but although I remember news of his death, did not know the circumstances until I read details of it on this page. Even at my then early age, I felt that she made most of the decisions!
One of the couple was related to the comedian Gillie Potter whom they could be relied upon to persuaded to appear at various Ruislip and scout events. He would always appear wearing a blue blazer with a broad red arrow as the badge on the breast pocket and open his patter with "Hello England". We all thought him incredibly funny. As I recall, the Hawtrey House uniforms, like those for all the other local schools, were sold at Allingham's shop on the High Street.
"I am the youngest of the three Fox boys and attended Hawtrey House School between 1951 to 1958 . I have mainly happy memories of my life at both the School and in the 3rd Ruislip Scout Group (affiliated to the school).
Our Headmistress (proprietor of the School) was Elfrida M Stimson and like many of her "boys" I have always held her in respect and with affection. "Jumbo" as she was later nicknamed by many, came across as a bit of a dragon and was very much one of the 'old school' but was really quite soft at heart despite her threat and occasional use of the "scout belt". In my early days at the school I recall she drove a large green Austin 16 car which I believe she used for home collection of some far flung pupils. This vehicle was later replaced by her beloved light brown Rover 90 car which she kept until becoming too old to drive!
Each year at the end of the summer term she would tow her caravan (kept for many years on the drive in front of the air raid shelter) to her beloved camp sight at Saundersfoot near Tenby where she spent a few weeks on holiday. It was also moved each year to the Scout camp site in Mad Bess Woods for the annual District Cub Camp weekend. In her role as Assistant District Commissioner her caravan took the best position and was always sited below an oak tree in the top right hand corner of the camping field where Jumbo had a good view of all the tents and of anyone entering or leaving the site.
Life at the school has been ably described by others but I particularly remember the rubber bricks (an early form of Lego) and the daily walk to the park in pairs and in crocodile formation stopping at each road crossing to await the command to cross from the teacher in charge. I believe that unless it was raining heavily, we went to the park every school day regardless of the temperature. Windows at the school were kept open, also regardless of the temperature, to encourage pupils to breathe fresh air at all times. In spring 1958, a pair of robins came in through the window and nested on a bookshelf in the classroom. Lessons carried on as normal and the hatching of the eggs and feeding of the chicks also carried on as normal. The local press came to the school and took photos including a group photo of me, Andrew Muxlow and Stephen Bowerman. An article and photo appeared in the local paper the following week. I also recall the routine of removing our winter black shoes or summer sandals upon arrival at school and changing into black canvas house shoes. Shoes and coats etc were stored in two small areas, one upstairs and the other downstairs, where there were pegs and open wooden lockers.
My walk to school took me up Windmill Hill and along Old Hatch Manor. This road, like a number of others in Ruislip at the time, had only a few houses newly built along it and there was no metalled road surface or pavements. The many plots of land not yet built upon made a great playground for youngsters and negotiating the puddles or sliding on the frozen puddles without getting soaked was great fun.
Although I was one of those fortunate ones who lived reasonably near to school and went home for lunch, on a few occasions I recall going with those pupils who had school lunches! This was a daily lunchtime crocodile formation walk to a café called the "Mayfair" in Manor Way, Ruislip Manor, where we had a meal at a negotiated price consisting of meat and two veg and a pudding. I recall the veg was a bit watery and disgusting but I was a lucky pupil who did not have to go there often.
As described, PE lessons took place at the Scout Hut (later named Stimson Hall) in West Ruislip but swimming lessons took place once a week at the outside Lido Pool in Uxbridge. This I loved, even though some days the temperature seemed barely above freezing. Once a week during the Summer Term each group would walk crocodile formation from the school to Ruislip Manor Station. Catch a train to Uxbridge Station and then a crocodile formation walk to the Uxbridge Lido. Lessons would first be "land drill" on the terrace beside the pool and then jump in for "water drill" with floats. I believe nearly all those who went regularly, learnt to swim adequately. But with Jumbo on hand most pupils learnt fast. To warm up afterwards, I would have a hot Bovril drink and a cheese roll from the Lido café. Then we all went back to Hawtrey House School doing the reverse journey.
Stimson Hall was also used for the School's annual nativity play and other plays where delighted parents and grandparents could watch their little darlings performing on the wooden stage. I took menial roles in several plays but the role I particularly remember was playing Friar Tuck in a performance of Robin Hood. I had not been chosen because of my size as I had to wear a cushion under my brown robe! The lead role was played by Chris Downing. I also recall doing a pirate play one year. Occasionally when on the stage we would get splinters in our hands or feet (or elsewhere) as the wooden floor was not very smooth!
My eldest brother, Christopher, went on to boarding school in Taunton and now lives partly in Essex and partly in France. My other brother Nicholas and I both went on to John Lyon School. Nicholas lives in Somerset and I in Kent. Our Mother, Constance Fox and John Stewart's Mother, Nancy Stewart, both assisted Akela (Jumbo) at the 3rd Ruislip Cub meetings and events. Although they did not wear uniforms, my mother was known as Baloo and Nancy as Bagheera. For many years they were Akela's background helpers and I know they were much appreciated by her.
In October 2004 I attended Andrew and Catherine Fulljame's 40th wedding anniversary celebrations at his house in Oxford. Those former pupils of Hawtrey House School who attended were:-
Elizabeth Davies (now Stewart, as married John)
Other former pupils I have been in contact with in recent years are:-
Andrew Muxlow (aka Andrew Marlow )
Names of former pupils I recall but who have not yet been mentioned are:-
I have compiled a list of the names (Surname & First name) of former pupils of Hawtrey House School which currently totals 89.
Incidentally, it was not stated who wrote the original contribution on Hawtrey House and unless he/she wishes to remain anonymous, his or her
name would be of interest."
Hawtrey House School/-
My name is Chris Sparks and was there from September 1934 to December 1939. My memories of the place, however, are slightly different to what I read. The Modus Operandi was generally the same, except that the classrooms were all on the ground floor. The two downstairs rooms of house number 18 being used as a hall or by the two kindergarten forms. The space where the kitchen would have been was the cloakroom. In number 20, the front room was shared by forms 220.127.116.11. and Junior 2. The back room was where the school lunch was served and used by the Stimsons as their dining room when the day-pupils had gone home. The only variance to this was in later years when a French man came to teach some of us French. We ‘Frenchies’, of which there were about fourteen, sat round the table in the dining room.
The upstairs rooms of number 20 were used by the Stimsons for their personal use and those of number 18 as dormitories; one for the two or three boarders; the other by the Stimson’s daughters, Elizabeth and Judy. As far as I can remember, none of the day pupils were allowed upstairs, except to go to the toilet. I was, perhaps, privileged, for living near to the school, during the holidays I played with the daughters and one of the boarders who stayed over the hol’s. I was then allowed access to these upper sanctums, mainly the front living room where I believe I spilt something on their settee. Another venue for our play was on the roof of the garage.
I don’t know much about what went on in the Kindergarten, as when I started at the school, I went straight into form 1. Here we were classified as though we were in five forms, they’re being three to five pupils in each. It appears, from studying my reports, that I took a step up the ‘ladder’ when my end of term appraisal warranted it. I don’t recall a lot about the lessons. I know listening to the schools broadcasts on the radio and reading the associated pamphlets, covered History and geography. Our textbook for Latin was called ‘Latin with laughter’; the very useful phrase ‘capra nautum calco”, comes to mind. And as I’ve already stated, a peripatetic Frenchman taught us French. Almost all the lessons I attended were under the charge of Mr. W.B. Stimson. He I recall as a very ‘nice guy’; strict, but friendly. When he was in the classroom, he almost always wore his gown and mortar-board hat. As a divertissement to the lessons, he would tell us of his experiences as a district commissioner, or some such post that he’d previously held in West Africa. And occasionally when there was a free period, maybe because there were no games due to unfavourable weather, he’d bring out his marvellous box of tricks. This contained parts to make up numerous devices. The ones I can remember were an epidiascope, a pinhole camera, leclenche cells and shocking coils. One Christmas, I had the honour of being taken to a pantomime by him and his family; the boarder had gone home earlier than expected, so there was a ticket going spare.
His wife, Mrs E.M.Stimson, was mainly occupied teaching the Kintergarten and the only times I came under her jurisdiction was during my first few terms. She took us for handicraft, Scripture and Ann Driver’s broadcast, (Music and Movement). Although my contact with her was thus limited, if asked I wouldn’t have said she was particularly ferocious. In fact I recall her as being friendly and maybe even a touch motherly. (Perhaps my memory has failed me, it has in many other ways). Anyway, whatever she was like, there was never a threat from a belt. The only one I recall was an ornate scouter’s belt and this was only used to hold up Mr Stimsons knee length cord trousers that he wore when in scout’s uniform.
Games and sport were high on the agenda of school activities. Swimming, I think, took the prize. We spent what seemed like hours, standing on one leg in the back garden, simulating the actions and breathing for the breaststroke. For practical work, one morning a week, we were bussed to baths. These were usually the Empire pool at Wembley, but occasionally we were taken to some very hot baths in Ealing, or if the weather was really good, to the out-door pool at Uxbridge. Football was also popular. One afternoon a week we had a game on the pitch beside Kings College Road. But I have absolutely no recollection of where we played cricket. We surely must have played it somewhere, because I know we played matches against teams from other schools; but they were all away games. The master who took us to one of these matches said he would buy an ice cream for every boy who got someone out. I had developed a very unprofessional type of bowling, - ‘donkey droppers’, - and bowled, or more probably, scared out four of the opposing team. I was very disappointed when I only got one ice cream. Then there was the annual sports event; long jumps, high jumps, flat races, obstacle races, and other athletic tortures, which I was no good at doing. On the different years these were held on the Ruislip Rec. (by the sand pits), Manor Farm, (where the bowling green now is.) and a field beside King College Road. (Opposite to where the hockey ground now is.) For a while horse riding was also on the curriculum. At the start, one afternoon a week, ponies were brought to the school and we rode in the field behind the school; (In those days there were no houses between the ones on Hawtrey drive and those on Warrender Way.) This soon became a Saturday morning event and I had to cycle to the stables in Pinner to catch my horse.
Hawtrey House School/-
As has been pointed out by other contributers, no kind parents took their little darlings to school in a car. However, either Mrs, or Mr Stimson did run a pupil taxi service. This was primarily for boys living on the other side of Ruislip, one as far away as Denham. It was a big car, but I doubt whether these days, it would be allowed to carry such a large number of passengers. We who lived East of the school had to fend for our selves. I did, however, get two rides in the car; once when I was invited to a birthday party in Denham, the other time, when I was taken to the West End for the pantomime.
The Stimsons certainly couldn’t be accused of being mean with their treats for their pupils. There was the annual summer outing. I went twice to the Aldershot Tattoo and twice to the Hendon Air show. Added to this there was the annual visit to Whitelies Christmas Bazaar.
Here we met the man with a cotton-wool beard and had a second turkey dinner. This I found ‘smashing’ even though my meagre pocket money rather limited my purchasing power.
Scouting was an activity associated with the school. The third Ruislip Wolf Cub pack had been started shortly after I came on the scene. This was a dedicated School pack and meetings were held at the school one afternoon each week during term time. Mr Stimson was Akela. Mrs Stimson was Baghera; something I think she had forgotten when years later I was sharply rebuked for addressing her as this.
We didn’t have a scout hut. When a venue for a party, or indoor games was required, we borrowed the first Ruislip’s hut behind Ruislip Woolworths. We also used their transport facilities when we went to a couple of jamborees held in Iver. We marched in the parades celebrating George Vth Jubilee and George VI th Coronation. The first was very hot and exhausting. The second was wet and windy; conditions I didn’t appreciate as I was carrying the colours. Other cub activities consisted of chasing each other round Ruislip woods, building bridges over the river Pinn and games in the various fields round the school. More sedate activities, like learning knots and semaphore, were carried out in a classroom or the school’s front garden. The school must have grown with me, because until I became eleven there were too few boys old enough to make up a scout patrol. So it wasn’t till circa 1938 that the ‘3rd Ruislip, Hawtrey House’ scouts came into existence. It consisted of one patrol, the Eagle patrol and I soon became its PL. But the war was ‘looming-large’ so there was not to be a lot of scouting activities. Most of our time was taken up collecting scrap paper. We did daily collections, mainly from the shops in Eastcote and Ruislip Manor, sort it at the school and then take it to the Small Barn at Manor Farm. We also learned various skills such as bandaging and acted as pseudo-casualties, being taken by lorry to St Vincents with labels attached to us. And finally there was a duty about which I remember very little. Starting in late 1939, groups of us had to report at 9 PM to Doctor Max Wilson’s surgery on Eastcote Road, (Opposite the entrance to the Ruislip Rec). Here we stayed late into the night.
This last activity had something to do with helping the civil defence in the event of an air-raid, but I don’t know exactly what. Perhaps one of my successors can enlighten me. I left Hawtrey House in December 1939 and so left the Scouts before any air raids occurred. Leaving the school then also meant that my parents didn’t have to cough up the mandatory sub towards the construction of the Hawtrey House air-raid shelter. Was this ever used ‘in anger’, or only as a bicycle shed? I wonder.
I was fascinated to read the latest contributions from Stephen Fox and Chris Sparks. In particular, Stephen Fox's recollections of swimming at Uxbridge baths brought back memories that I had clearly repressed!!
Unlike him, I recall swimming days as extremely unpleasant. We were taken by bus to Uxbridge to visit the outdoor pool (does it still exist?). Having changed into our swimming trunks (I'm not sure where) we were lined up at the so-called 'shallow end' - 3 feet is not shallow when you are barely that height yourself. We were then to all join hands and jump in. The water was freezing and, as far as I was concerned, too deep for comfort. I suppose it was part of the 'cold showers and character building' traditions of certain sectors of the English education system of the day. The experience put me off swimming for years until I finally mastered a suspiciously doggy-like crawl at the heated pool at Macclesfied baths during my time at secondary school (King's School, Macclesfield).
Reading Chris Sparks's piece, I think it is clear that the school had changed considerably by the end of the war. I don't recall school trips, nor much in the way of sports, nor meeting pupils from other schools.
As I read more about Hawtery House I wonder how many other schools there were like it, tiny schools run from domestic premises - or perhaps it and its cast of characters were simply unique. Are there any educational historians out there who could enlighten us?
This picture was taken in the garden at Hawtery House in about 1955. It shows (left to right) Back row - Ian Barraclough (?), myself, Telford Payne, Michael Godden, ??. Front row - Malcolm Underwood, Roger Pegg, Jane Horton, David Hobbs, Brian Grout. This picture, of the finale of a Nativity Play, was probably taken in 1953. The venue is presumably the West Ruislip scout hut. I do not know the names of those on the stage, but the front row standing are (left to right) Alistair ??, myself, ??, Michael Godden, Allan Robinson, Malcom Underwood, Nicky Nardeckia (?), ??, ??.
And do the current occupants of 18 and 20 Hawtrey Drive realise that their bedrooms, living rooms and gardens were once filled with youngsters who remember them still?
Alan Thomas 31.03.05
It was a lovely sunny morning in September 1943. I was standing with my mother on the corner of West End Road and Herlwyn Avenue. (Ruislip Gardens’ end) A big black Austin pulled up and out stepped Mrs Stimson. My first meeting with the formidable lady. There followed six years which by and large I enjoyed. I felt more comfortable in a school of 70 rather than 700 when I moved on to Harrow County.
I found Mrs Stimson to be a firm disciplinarian but also compassionate when necessary. She led the morning assembly with the appropriate prayers and hymns – the School hymn being the now popularly revived ‘Jerusalem’. One morning the service was conducted by a man in a smart Army Officer’s uniform. This was of course Major Stimson, home on leave. Soon afterwards we heard about the Major’s death in a plane crash. Being war-time it was not unusual, on hearing the air-raid sirens, to be taken to the brick built shelter where the lessons continued until the all-clear.
My first teacher in the kindergarten was Miss Thomas. At the age of five I had an instant crush on her. Until then the only other female to cause me emotional flutters had been Snow White in the Disney film. As well as teaching, Miss Thomas was also the assistant to Mrs Stimson’s Akela on Cub afternoons.
All but one of the teachers were ladies, the exception being Mr Harvey who took the senior class in my last year. However, Mr Faithfull, Mrs Stimson’s son-in-law who had a morning milk round, was the sports master during the afternoons. Cricket and Football matches against other schools were played in Eastcote Park, Ruislip Manor Park and the King’s College playing fields. With only eleven pupils in the class, we were guaranteed a place in the school team! I was particularly proud though when Mr Faithfull made me captain of the football team.
Many years later when I was working for British European Airways, I arrived for a new position in an office at Heathrow. Who should be sitting there in the office but a smart young man in company uniform ? Mr Faithfull. Our relationship at school had been Mr Faithfull and Wright, but in the more informal working environment became Bill and Alan. For many years Bill kept me up to date with the school and ‘mother’ as he referred to Mrs Stimson. He advised me of Mrs Stimson’s death some time back in the 1970’s. Sadly Bill himself died only a year or two ago. ( Footnote from David Bowler Could this be the Bill Faithfull who went on to become General Training Manager at the BEA Training Centre in Heston? He was responsible for BEA's Management Trainees (of which I was one back in 1969) and a very human person. Within BEA the rumour was that he had started as an aircraft marshaller (bats-man) back in the Northolt days.)
My contemporaries, who I grew up with in the period 1943-1949, included Donald Paul, John Walsh, Norman Jeans, David Powell, Frank Bullin, Alan Young, Colin Pritchard, Brian Relph and Brian Jeffries. I wonder where they all are now?
Hawtrey House School/-
So are you on the picture here (click on it to enlarge)? The sender remembers as follows
Back row: Alan Thomas, Alistair ?, Nicky Nardekia?, ? ?, Telford Payne, Allan Robinson
Middle row: Roger Pegg, ? ?, Mrs Smith, Brian Grout, David Hobbs
Front row: Jane Horton, Elly Bray, Sally Darling
Hawtrey House School/-
My name is Ray Lewis. I was in the 3rd Ruislip (Hawtrey House) Scout troop in the late 40's and eventually became Troop Leader. The Scout Master was a Mr Giles - can't recall his first name now, he lived down near Ruislip Woods.
Here is a photo with Mrs Stimpson in the centre, I am there on the right, and Mr Giles is on the left. I too remember Gillie Potter coming to entertain us, he was a very popular comedian on the radio at the time.
I also remember the building of the Scout hut in West Ruislip. Didn't know it was later named Stimson Hall - but quite appropriate.
Happy memories of a bygone age
Hawtrey House School/-
Many things come back to me as you mention the headmistress and her "endearing" habits. However, many years later, although better late than never, thank you Hawtry House. I remember you as quite kind to a very frightened American child. I remember you even allowed me to put teddy on his own chair. Pretty sporting of you, I'd say.
I attended Hawtrey House from about 1945 (aged 6 years). I lived at Eastcote Road, Ruislip and I walked to school, and up Windmill Hill I walking past Graham Hughes house. I remember Graham went to Hawtrey House then on to Bloxham Boarding School. I think he had a younger brother Dudley. As a family we left Eastcote Road and took up residence in Flag Cottage in Old Eastcote in about 1954-5. I remember Mrs Stimson as the Scout Leader as I was in the scouts. I was enrolled as Christopher Walter Aldridge. When my mother remarried I took on her husband's name of Wilson. I remember there were two other boys who attended Hawtrey House who lived two doors along from us at Eastcote Road.
My second school was at Atholl House School at Rayners Lane where I remained until taking the School Leaving Certificate.
After leaving school I worked in the airline industry for a couple of years before immigrating to New Zealand in 1957 where I lived and worked till the early 1960s when I travelled across to Australia and have lived here ever since.
If anyone remembers this name I would be happy to hear any news.
With best wishes, Chris Wilson
I lived in English for 3 1/2 years, while I was there I went to school at Hawtrey House. I went to this school from 1956- 1959. The time I went to class I don't really remember to much, it was so long ago. Two of my classes mates that I had were Susan Wells and Trevor Pedler. Trevor had a younger sister.
In 1959 my family and I moved back to United States as my dad was in the US Air Force. Years later I came back to London and just had to come back to see where I lived and went to school. Things were so much bigger when you are small. But the one thing that did not change was the school. Those were the days.
My brother David and I went to Hawtrey House until we moved to Northwood in 1953. We lived in Elm Avenue and use to walk from home to school through a sort of cut through . We were at school with David Bray who would walk with us to and from school at the start and end of the day and also went home for lunch. I only remember the classrooms on the ground floor and how hot they were in the summer. We knew Mrs Faithful who I think was Mrs Stimpson's daughter and spent a lot of time with Sally Anne and Ian Faithful who lived on the Hogg's Back at Northwood Hills. We watch the Coronation with Faithfull's as they were the only people that we knew who had a TV. Would loved to hear from anyone who was at Hawtrey House at the same time. I was at Hawtry House from 1950 to 1953. My brother David was there from 1952. We lived in Elm Avenue.
My maiden name was Anne Sayers and I was amazed to find all the memories of Hawtrey House School when browsing around the Internet. I was there from 1948 till 1950 and I was one of the American children referred to on the postings. I went on to St. Helen's, Northwood after that.
I remember vividly the uniform, under which we were supposed to wear "liberty bodices", garments which were most UN-liberating in that they were made of rough, itchy wool which caused painful dermatitis. I also remember being ferried to school on the back of my mother's push bike and having a few nasty spills along the way. There was a folding door called "the partition" between the classrooms, which was closed every morning.
I quickly learned to keep out of the way of Ms. Stimson, but I adored Ms. Faithfull. Other memories are of the Annis twins and an American boy called Lyn Nolte, whose family became lifelong friends of mine, and whom I still visit regularly in Colorado Springs.
In my memories, it was always summer in those far-off days. We hung cherries over our ears like gypsy earrings and played in the back garden. I also remember standing on the platform of Harrow Station and not being able to see a passing steam train because of the pea-soup fog.
I have lived in Toronto, Canada, for many years but occasionally visit London. If anyone who remembers me would like to get in touch, please contact me.
I'm so glad that, I have managed to locate this site. About the School, that is very fond in my memories. Some of the names are a real blast from the past. Some of the things learnt in the Scouts are still used today. When I open the blinds in the front of the house, I still use the sliding fingers, so that there is a smooth flowing motion as taught, when breaking the flag.
I was a pupil at Hawtrey House during the war. my most vivid memory of the school was when one of the first v2's exploded in the air over the school and rained debris all down the street. I and friends were returning from lunch somewhere near Ruislip Manor station. I was clutching an ice-cream cone which I dropped when we heard this terrific explosion above us. We hurried back to school through a hail of pieces of metal and what appeared to be lumps of asbestos or concrete. As I neared the school, what looked like the nose cone of the rocket fell to the ground in front of me. As an avid collector of shrapnel this would have been the pride of my collection but a man ran from a house and demanded I give it to him which being only a small child I did. I wonder if he still has it, although he would now be in his 90's if still alive. Teachers ran out in panic telling us to get into school and wash our hands, as it was suspected that such German missiles would be coated in poison to increase their deadly effects. Does anyone else recall this incident, I wonder.
Of the other pupils at the school the only name I remember is that of the Tremane twins, boy and girl. I can picture the girl now in her blue and white striped summer dress. They both always had an oblong trifle sponge for break time which I greatly envied and coveted. I also remember singing "She'll come round the mountain..." in the garage/air raid shelter during raids and the full size wooden bulldog that was housed there. Keir Gregory
I am John Churcher, the author of the original article, which I am pleased to see has generated so much interest. I was particularly taken by Mile Thomas's comments, someone I had little contact with but who I always regarded as a kind of doppelganger; this for the following reasons. I too was in a class above my age group and like Mike went on to Uppder Latymer, where I enviously recall him buying the special edition of Titbits, or was it Reveille, with the life size centrefold photograph of Brigitte Bardot inside. Now I learn that he also shared my passion for Miss King!
In 1952, Mrs Stimson, in Akela mode, suggested I might like to present a bunch of flowers to some visiting female dignitary or other, called in to open a fete or present prizes or some such civic duty, a proposition that filled me with horror and stubborn refusal, a character trait which I suspect has served me poorly over the years. My suspicion that I had been chosen as the smallest (cutest? oh dear!) wolf cub was largely vindicated when the dubious honour was passed on to poor Mike (the second smallest, cutest?) member of the pack.
Second strongest memory: Ian Faithfull stealing my tricycle from the bike shed during lessons and pedalling off into the blue. Bearing in mind Mrs Stimson's strict prohibition against sneaking on fellow pupils I kept schtum that is until an hour or so later when all hell broke loose at the discovery of his disappearance. "Why didn't you tell anyone?" demanded a distraught Elfrida, or perhaps his mother. "You told us never to tell tales," was my reply to their angst and exasperation. I believe Ian got as far as the foreign office buildings/American school that day: an intrepid lad! I'm sure he must have gone far.
Third most important memory (a tale of three Johns): John Davies ordering me to punch his sister Elizabeth, while we cavorted around the hall to Ann Diver, a commission I had no intention of carrying out, although I believe I accepted it all the same. I already had a crush on his sister, who that term had just started in the Lower Kindergarten, Instead I determined that years later when we were married I would tell her the story and have a good laugh about it. Oddly enough her future husband was in that class, yet another John, and a far more eligible suitor, I don't doubt, than myself.
Happy days what? Well some of them anyway.Happily married now for 39 years, with three adult children.
Hi John (above). I am glad that you started this site. I hope to be able to add to it. Preferably on the proper page. First I have to find out how to add photos. I have the photo's belonging to Brian Griffiths of a canoeing trip. Our first trip together, when we canoed to Windsor after an Easter Camp at North Stoke, in what turned out to be a commando raid on each Lock, as we did not have an exemption certificate, It cost us 9d to carry the canoe around the Lock and with the number of Locks on out trip and counting up all we had between us, we could not do the journey, So it was a clandestine attack on each of the many Locks, to get around the payments. It was a trip, that I puzzle still today, how we did this long trip, with all the extra planning to get through each of the Locks, with such success.
I remember the Belt being used on Brian(Bryan) Frazer. He was in the lower front classroom, Sitting on his seat, with the front legs up, when the chair shot from under him, and he fell back, hitting a cabinet, which has a display of birds eggs in, which fell to the floor, destroying the display. This was rewarded, with him being bent over Mrs. Stimson lap and his thigh given a good couple of smacks.
In an idle moment I put Hawtrey House into the search function and lo and behold there it was, complete with a mention of my name! I was at HH from 1949 to 1953 when I left to go to Bramcote Hall prep school in Nottingham, then on to Stowe. I must admit that my memories of HH are now very vague, except that I really enjoyed my time there. I lived in Lime Grove, just down the road, and I well remember going to school alone in my pedal car each morning. My only clear memories are of Mrs Stimson, the Scout Belt (which I escaped!) and having lessons in the garden on warm sunny days. I also remember bringing piles of old newspapers and silver paper and milk bottle tops to school for charity, and also being a member of the Bluebird Club. Sadly I don't remember any of the other pupils' names. Adrian Crosthwaite
I was a pupil there from about 1948 to 1952 and recognise many names and stories. My brother, David, and I lived in Warrender Way, so we didn't need to cross the road to get to school. We, too, avoided the dreaded Scout Belt but practically drowned at the Uxbridge Lido on swimming days.
The venue is presumably the West Ruislip scout hut. I do not know the names of those on the stage, but the front row standing are (left to right) Alistair ??, Brian Grout, ??, Michael Godden, Allan Robinson, Malcom Underwood, Nicky Nardeckia (?), ??, ??.
Brief details are show below. Some of the web sites are very large!
Main Ruislip site
Up to date information about Ruislip and the area. Plus sections with suggested walks and even why houses are so expensive. Not forgetting the spies and USAF South Ruislip, so some history too.
Ruislip In Pictures
Ruislip's premier attraction and so important it gets a web site all to itself.
Everything from the history from years back to struggling to park today. It is all here.
Some classic pictures from years gone by.
We also run the community web site for Ickenham. Loads of old pictures and some more up to date one plus details of all that Ickenham has to offer.
Details of all the pubs and more is just one click away.